Internet First is driven by government policies to improve Digital Service effectiveness and efficiency from the use of both internet and public cloud.
The Digital Efficiency report 2012 anticipated process efficiencies in government departments (£1.7 – 1.8Bn / year in central government, £2.9Bn NHS).
Non-monetised benefits such as public empowerment and employability benefits were outlined in the Government Digital Strategy.
This was taken up at a departmental level by the Department of Health and Social Care. A Digital Health and Care system: Digital First in Primary Care proposed internet access to enable a channel shift to things like self-management and online consultations.
A letter from John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service and Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary, on 16 December 2016 advised: “NHS Digital, with the programme should develop successor plans to move the HSCN architecture and legacy applications progressively to a wholly internet based solution (subject to a cost benefits analysis of doing so).”
The Government Transformation Strategy 2017, “Extended the digital agenda from the citizen to maximising the benefit of collaboration and flexibility across departments and government bodies.”
The Government Digital Services Technology Leaders Network reviewed the positioning of centralised private networks in January 2017 and confirmed that, for the vast majority of public services, the internet is OK. They also said that new services should be made available on the internet.
In October 2018 the Secretary of State’s (SoS) paper ‘The future of healthcare: our vision for digital, data and technology in health and care’, demanded a ‘radical new approach’. He later stated that the NHS should come off ‘expensive private networks’ and that digital services should be accessible over the internet by March 2021.